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Showing posts from September, 2010

I Am The Messenger Review

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I AM THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 31, 2006)
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvetently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

I've been a Zusak fangirl ever since I read THE BOOK THIEF so of course when I saw this book in the library I had to pick it up. It didn't disappoint. Zusak has a tendency to have me racing through the pages and then leave me amazed, shocked, and confused (in a good way) when I finally close the book. I think this is one of those books you…

RTW -- Best Book of September

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I didn't have the best month reading-wise this time, but I'm...going to cheat. Again. I'm sorry. But I just can't choose which one of these two books was better.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
This book is still stuck in my head. I haven't stopped thinking about Alaska. She was so infuriating and intriguing and all around awesome... The writing and voice were incredible (as usual) and it's a plot that sticks with you long after you've turned the final page.

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
I'm not going to lie. I put off getting this book for awhile because it didn't really sound interesting to me and I don't go for the more plain (in my eyes) covers very often. But it was Markus Zusak (THE BOOK THIEF is one of my favorite books. Of all time.) and I saw it in the library so I just decided to grab it. Did. Not. Disappoint. Absolutely beautiful writing and voice. I'm still confused over the plot, but it's a good confused. I feel like that…

The Timeless Question

It's not "Where do we go when we die?" or "What is the meaning of life?" or "What came first: the chicken or the egg?"

No, I'm talking about "What's more important: a great idea or great execution?"

I'm going to say both.

The Idea
This is the plot. The life of the story. Without a great plot you're left with 100,000 words of rambling. The characters wouldn't be faced with many challenges, there wouldn't be a lot of tension, and readers won't be interested in the story. A great idea is the first thing that comes. The plot of the final draft might be slightly different than that of the "Eureka!" moment, but without it there wouldn't be a final draft.

The Execution
This is the skeleton of the story. Without great writing, the idea won't shine through and no one will be able to muddle through the writing to see how awesome your plot is. Think of the idea is an uncut diamond and the writing as the cutting a…

Life's a Balancing Act

Sometimes it can be hard to find time to write among all the homework, jobs, friends, family, sports, and everything else in high school life. Here are five tips to help with the balancing act:
Prioritize. Over the summer, I was able to spend my days doing whatever I wanted. When school started again, I had to take a look at my priorities and decide what was most important to me. Sometimes you have to give up things and that's okay. Schedule. If you're organized, schedule your time. Set aside time for studying and time for writing.
Make time for writing. If you find yourself putting off writing for the next day because you "don't have time," make time. Now you shouldn't be looking at your writing as a chore. If schedule time for writing kills your desire to do it, take some time off and come back with a fresh outlook. I've been scheduling 30 minutes of writing time every night. Even on my busiest days I can still find a quick half hour to write. If that'…

RTW -- Fictional Friends

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.


This Week's Topic:
If you went to high school with your characters, would you be friends?
I'd definitely be friends with Kaye. We're both shy and we both love horses. I think we'd become friends right away, but grow apart as we grew up. I'd want to get away and she'd want to stay in Nevada. We might try to stay in touch, but I don't think it would last long with either of us.

I wouldn't be friends with Skylar, but I might have a secret crush on him. Pre-BB Skylar would be a bad boy, a fleeting crush for me. I'd be in love with post-BB Skylar.

As for Belle, I don't think we could ever be friends. She's based on a mixed-up sophomore at my school and we just wouldn't get along. Bell…

Looking for Alaska Review

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Looking for Alaska by John Green
before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Francois Rebelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possible unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

after. Nothing is ever the same.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA was my second John Green book. I'm going to look for more soon.

The characters are incredible and so original. I'm still getting over the WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF BLACK SANTAS from Paper Towns. And now I have Miles who's obse…

Speak Loudly

Today, I returned from church to find that Twitter had exploded. I was scared to post this, but this is not the time to fall silent. This is the time to stand up and SPEAK.

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, the story of a young girl that is raped and decides to keep quiet, has been challenged by Mr. Scroggins. This is what he had to say:
One such book is called "Speak." They also watch the movie. This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team. They have sex on Saturday night and then are goddesses at church on Sunday morning. The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes.Rape is …

Week in Short

Holy crap, where did my week go? I can't believe it's already Saturday night... This is my third week of school and it is getting easier. I'm falling back into my routine. Unfortunately my routine hasn't left much time open for writing lately, but BB is progressing. I've outlined the rest through the ending and I'm really excited to finish the first draft.

And in this edition of Week in Short...

Must Read:
Courage in the face of fell circumstances
The evolution of Amy Lukavic's agent-snagging query

News:
Jessica Faust is accepting queries again!

Moonrat says goodbye to Editorial Ass

Literary Rambles:
A use for those darn word verifications

Literaticat:
Frontlist, backlist, and midlist explained

Mad Woman in the Forest:
Inside book tours

Querytracker:
Confidence and determination: succeeding as a writer

Story Flip:
Points of view

New Releases -- Annexed, Paranormalcy, and Personal Demons

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Annexed by Sharon Dogar Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex – but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?

In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter’s point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you’re being written about in Anne’s diary, day after day? What’s it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.

As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?

Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond …

Types of Books

In my mind, books can be divided into four categories.

#1 Slow and Steady to Savor
These are, in my mind, the best. These are the books I read slowly so that I can enjoy every word. The books that I never want to end. I might stop and put the book down every chapter or two to think about what's happened, but it always pulls me back a few seconds later.

#2 ZOMG WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
These are almost equal to #1. These are the books that are full of suspense. Tension! Action! They drag you through the pages, racing to see how it all turns out. However, they may be lacking something besides tension keeping me reading.

#3 Let Me Just Skip Ahead...
These books are typically good in some areas because they make me want to see how it all ends, but they lack the tension or the likeable characters or the concise writing to keep me reading through normally. These books might be longer than they need to be, or the pacing might be too slow.

#4: I'm Done
These are the books I don't even bother t…

RTW -- Going Back in Time

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

This one was really hard for me because I don't write historicals and it takes a fantastic exception to get me to read one.

But...I think I would have to choose Victorian times. I've always wanted to go there and even if it was just for research, I still think that would be the time period I would choose. Back to the time of arranged marriages and princes and corsets.

Or maybe Hitler Germany, just because I have a fascination with World War 2. THE BOOK THIEF is undoubtedly one of my favorite books ever, Valkyrie is one of my favorite movies, and ANNEXED is number one on my "To Read" list. It wo…

Girl in the Arena

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Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
The fans all went wild. So did the paparazzi. But her father would up dead, killed in the arena on one of the biggest fight nights of the year. But by gladiator rules, Lyn is forced to marry her father's killer. Unless she fights him herself...

I bought this book expecting it to be filled with action, suspense, and intrigue. I bought it at the same time as Mockingjay and was expecting something in the same vein. Sometimes it can be good for a book to be unexpected, but this one was so far separated that I felt confused. I spent most of the book waiting and hoping for the big fight and it didn't happen until the very end.

The writing style was way different. I thought I would get used to it and I kind of did, but the farther I got into the book the harder it became to read. The way of formatting dialogue is hard to follow and almost made me put the book down. My mom picked it up and read a couple pages and refused to keep going simply because of th…

Beastly Review

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Beastly by Alex Flinn
A beast. Not quite wolf or gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature with fangs, claws, and hair springing from every pore. I am a walking monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. And I'll stay this way forever -- unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, the perfect girl, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly...beastly.

BEASTLY is a rather adorable modern retelling of the old tale, Beauty and the Beast. I watched the Disney movie just as I was in the first few chapters of the book and it was rather interesting to see the parallels. I picked it up because there's a movie coming out in March and I wanted to read the…

Brainstorming to Break Writers' Block

Brainstorming is one of my favorite ways to defeat writers' block. It's very easy and you can come up with a lot of ideas. You don't even have to use them all then. Some could be saved for later scenes or even other novels. You never know what you'll come up with.

Step 1: Open a blank Word doc. You can also brainstorm right on the manuscript, but I like to have a fresh page for my brainstorming. I'm weird that way.

Step 2: Use bullets. This is the easiest way to keep your brain vomit organized.

Step 3: Write down any and all ideas of what could happen next. No matter how stupid it sounds, write it down. This is very important. Give yourself permission to write down things that would never happen in a million years. This opens up the brain space for new ideas to be created and may even give you a springboard for a scene later in the novel. Think back to any small threads that might be fleshed out into a larger plot point. Think "what's the worst that could hap…

RTW -- My DUFF Kit

Ugh, school. It's sucking up all my time and energy. Hoping that once I settle back into my routine, things will get better. I don't even have homework yet...

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What's in your DUFF kit?

1. Favorite drink: Root beer. It's heaven in a bottle and I almost never get to drink it.

2. Most comfy and old shoes: A pair that I don't own anymore, my old blue Reeboks. Unfortunately I outgrew them two years ago and bought a pair of purple Nikes. I will always be a Reebok girl.

3. Movies featuring favorite male actor: I don't have one favorite male actor so 10 Things I Hate About You, Titanic, both Princess Diaries movies, the Proposal, anything with Alex Pettyfer, Orlando Bloom, or Johnny Depp.

The Duff Review

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The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "the Duff," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Wore, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

I'm just going to start off saying that I LOVE this book. It's one of those books where I pause after every chapter to savor…

Week in Short

Before we begin, I have a couple of announcements to make.

1. I'm taking Monday off blogging because of the holiday. Also, I'll be on vacation with family. Though I'm taking the laptop and have taken my mom's past troubles with hotel wi-fi as a challenge to figure out how it works.

2. I'm starting school on Tuesday (ugh). I'll still be blogging every day during the week, but I'm moving Week in Shorts to Saturday to give me extra time to catch up on blog posts without having to worry about it on top of Friday night football games.

Okay...on to this week!

Song of the week: Mine by Taylor Swift (Yes, I'm addicted. The video is adorable. *hides*)

Must Read:
Violence in young adult [I have a post scheduled about this myself for next week. I think I'm going to cancel it. Everything has already been said here.]
Skeletal first drafts
Hannah Moskowitz: The Agent Story part 1, part 2, and part 3
Learning from the masters

News:
Banned Books Reading Challenge be…

Banned Books Reading Challenge

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It's September so it means it's time for the Banned Books Challenge! The challenge is to read a set goal number of banned/challenged books in the next month and a half. My goal is to read seven books, but your goal can be as many as you wish. This is something I've been wanting to do since sophomore year two years ago when I learned that censorship in literature still exists today and even more so in the light of Ellen Hopkin's censorship at the Teen Lit Festival.

Click here to join the Banned Book Challenge

RTW -- August's Best Book(s)

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Today is the first day of September. O.O What happened to my summer???

I read so many awesome books last month...I could stare at this screen for twenty minutes without coming to a decision. So...I'm just going to post them both. The first one I read on Thursday in about four hours. The second one I read on Wednesday in abut seven. I didn't want to put either of them down for more than a few minutes, for different reasons.

The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "the Duff," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Wore, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted …